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Wednesday, 15 December 1999

Christmas Letter 1999

Dear Family and Friends,

Upon receiving so many wonderful Christmas letters, I figured it was high time that I attempt at writing one myself. For starters, I hope that this letter finds you all well and excited about the new millennium. In my opinion, this year has come and gone far too quickly. I almost feel as though I’ve missed something. But here we are finding ourselves frantic about Christmas presents and New Year’s resolutions. Best of all, it is that time of year in which we celebrate the miracle of Christ from two thousand years ago.

There have been many things to be thankful for this past year. So many, in fact, that it feels as though a millennium has already come and gone. We started the year off with James’ and my wedding on January 2nd. Things have been wonderfully tough as we find ourselves growing together as individuals. These past months have certainly put us to the test but I feel confident in our strength and friendship. Even with pregnancy raging hormones, we’ve managed to work out quite a few things sometimes even with a laugh.

Things remained rather calm until March. I received a call from my doctor stating that my alpha-fetoprotein level (a protein produced by the baby) was a little high. A fetal assessment would help confirm any problems. To my surprise, the baby was showing signs of distress. She was measuring a month smaller in size and did not appear to be getting enough oxygen. A strict monitoring schedule was established and I was left feeling dumbfounded. Needless to say, a range of emotions flooded me ranging from anger towards my body for turning on my child, to fear that things might go wrong.

May was the hardest month of my life. My Grandma Kay was brought to Health Sciences Centre on Mother’s day. She had very little time left to live. Family pooled together and I experienced a circle of love and strength as I have never experienced before. Differences were put aside, forgiveness filled hearts, laughter and tears were shared as we all stood by and loved Grandma as she was dying. For a whole week there was family at her side. That Friday, my second fetal assessment showed that my baby was dying. An emergency C-section would be performed on the Monday morning of May 17th. Two hours after hearing that news, Grandma passed away and amidst my fear, I suddenly felt that she would protect my baby.

The morning of May 17th had arrived. I trembled with fear for my baby who had only six months to prepare in the womb. Was that going to be enough? James was at my side in the O.R. After half an hour, I heard the doctors exclaim “my God, that’s small!” But when they lifted my baby from me and I heard three little cries as they exclaimed, “it’s a girl”, I turned to James and said, “she’s going to make it. Little Isabel Faith is going to make it.” Grandma was watching over her indeed.

Isabel (which I found out later means ‘chosen by God’) weighed only 1lb 61/2 oz, which is only 648 grams for all you metrics out there. She was twelve inches long. This would be the beginning of a very long road with which all the details would consume too much of your time. In brief, she amazed the doctors and nurses. She survived pneumonia, chemotherapy treatment never before performed on a preemie, blood transfusions, platelet transfusions, respirators, eye laser treatment for retinopathy, and countless other feats. Yet through it all, she remained ever so strong. After three months of hospitalization, she came home to her family at 3 lbs 6 oz, the smallest baby ever to be discharged in the history of Children’s Hospital. No doubt it is thanks to all of your prayers and support that Isabel has dodged so many of the odds that were stacked up against her. Thank you for playing a part in the miracle.

Melina has been incredible through all of this. She has been through much and has been very expressive about her feelings and questions. I don’t think I could have asked for a more incredible four year old. Her compassion and love for Isabel is beautiful to watch. Isabel of course adores Melina and gives herself whiplash trying to follow her every move. On top of becoming a big sister, Melina has also started attending Montessori Preschool. She has made new friends and enjoys her time away from home. (You think only parents need breaks? Not according to Melina). She gets to run, bounce, jump, slide, glide, ride, sing and play while learning basic Math, Arts, Sciences, and Logic. The learning is self-directed which all those of you who know Melina know that this is the only way she would have it. Besides being a brilliant pre-scholar, she loves to dance, play at the park, make her parents laugh and most of all to colour. Her artwork is expressive and exquisite. She loves to draw people, houses, rainbows, flowers, etc… Her attention to detail is surprising. Even staff from Montessori School has suggested an art program. In the meantime, she continues to express herself on paper and teaching her other little playmates how to expand their fine arts abilities. We are so proud of our big girl.

As of June 2nd, James has been hired by the Angus Reid Group as their help desk technician in the I.S.T department. My computer genius has worked hard to get where he is at and continues to study for further exams to acquire his certificates as Certified Netware Engineer (C.N.E), Certified Netware Assistant (C.N.A) and finally Microsoft Certified System Engineer (M.C.S.E). He has also been perfecting his art as a computer games addict. (If only you could hear the sarcasm in my voice). Needless to say, I prefer the first goals to the second; however, I must admit his determination for the later is impressive. If only he could attack his studies as enthusiastically… Despite the rocky road of fatherhood these past few months, nothing has stopped him from succeeding. I am proud of his hard work and accomplishments.

As for me, I have had my hands full with visits to the hospital, doctor's appointments, dirty diapers and monsters in the closets. Since things have calmed down, I don’t think I could be happier. I adore my two girls and love nothing more than smothering them with hugs and kisses. Pride overwhelms me as I take on the luckiest role as their mother. Sometimes I feel as though someone has handed me the moon and I am somehow expected to guide it as best I can. Melina once asked me if I was her teacher and upon reflection I realized that I have learned more about life from these two little people than I have in a lifetime. So I ask myself who truly is the teacher? Socrates hit it right on when he said that, “Children are the greatest philosophers of life.” Blessed am I to have my girls.

And so concludes the main events of this past year. In only 365 days, we have learned more about love, forgiveness, striving, believing and trusting in God’s plan. What does the future have in store for us? I have no idea. But I await patiently knowing that whatever comes our way, we shall work together in embracing our lessons and living our dreams. Peace and Love to you all this Christmas and may the New Year bless you with the gifts of life…and computers that still work.

Much love: The Watson-Burgess Family